Ever since the mid-1980s, when record execs and producers realized you can copy the Jackson 5 and New Edition blueprint and sell a lot of music-related products to teens, the boy band has become a recurring trend every decade. And every boy band since Menudo and New Kids on the Block has had pretty much the same story: There’s always a bad boy in the group. There’s always the guy who eventually is going to go solo. There’s the goofy, fun guy. And there’s always the one guy who is secretly gay until the group’s popularity fades.
Now there is a new boy band on the scene looking to break that mold: All five members are openly gay.
Echo V recently released its debut single, “Rainbow,” a high-energy pop/dance anthem that reflects the members’ decision to be out about their sexuality.
The group members go by their first names only. Jay and Mike, who perform alongside Gama, Devin and Randy, said that each member was already a performer when he got the call to audition for the group in 2016. It was clear the group was going to be something different, Jay said.
“I was already doing my own thing, but L.A. beats you down a little bit. I was doing a lot of collaborations when I found the group. I looked around the room and it was just obvious. The energy in the room was totally gay. That was a management idea.”
Mike said he was working in musical theater when he heard about the opportunity to try out.
“I could dance, and the 10-year-old in me was screaming because I grew up with all this stuff. So I took a shift from the theatrical world to be more music-based. I brought up [my sexuality] before I even auditioned, and they told me everyone else happens to be gay. So it was perfect.”
The gasoline fueling any boy band’s success is traditionally preteen and teenage girls. Jay and Mike said they are trying to reignite the heyday of the mega-successful boy bands of the late 1990s and early 2000s, but for a gay audience.
“As a group, we decided we wanted to be marketed as a gay boy band to a gay demographic,” Mike said. “We also just learned over time that the female demographic is drawn to us as well. Sexy guys singing? Why not? It doesn’t matter. They have fun with us.”
“I feel like we’re trying to bring back NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys,” Jay added. “We can talk about One Direction and these other groups, but they didn’t really do the same thing that Backstreet Boys and NSYNC did. We’re trying to go back to those roots that we grew up with and our fans grew up with, just because a 16-year-old probably doesn’t know who NSYNC are.”
As individuals, the singers don’t necessarily subscribe to the traditional boy-band archetypes.
“We’ve all talked about this,” Jay said. “We all have five very distinct personalities. With all of us being gay, our archetypes don’t fit the traditional boy band. We don’t have a twink in the group. We don’t have a bear in the group. We’re all somewhere in the middle. We all sing. We all produce. We all write. But we don’t have any gay archetypes.”
Echo V’s debut single, “Rainbow,” is out now. For more information, visit http://echovmusicofficial.com/.